Crash of the Titans
McNair injured as Jags score late to stay unbeaten
Updated: Sunday September 26, 2004 8:54PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are proving that with a good defense, any kind of offense will do.
Fred Taylor ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 9 seconds left Sunday, and the Jaguars beat Tennessee 15-12 for their first victory ever at The Coliseum. Jacksonville now is 3-0 despite scoring just 35 points this season.
Of course, the Jaguars have allowed only 28.
"Our defense is outstanding," Taylor said. "They keep us in it and give us a chance to win. I don't want to say we have the luxury of starting slow, because that just isn't how you want to play."
The Jaguars sacked Steve McNair three times and knocked him out in the fourth quarter with a bruised sternum. He watched the final minutes from the sideline as the Titans (1-2) lost their second straight, then was taken to a local hospital for more tests.
"I don't tell Steve not to run," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "He took this game over and gave us a chance to put a scoring drive together with the two runs. That's the risk he takes."
Del Rio said his Jaguars have plenty of room for improvement after pulling out a victory over Buffalo with no time left and recovering a fumble last week in the final minute to beat Denver.
"For us, a huge win. [I'm] proud of our guys for fighting the whole 60 minutes," Del Rio said.
Byron Leftwich also threw for a touchdown as the Jaguars won their first three games for the first time since 1998 and stayed alone atop the AFC South.
Tennessee has dominated this series since 1999, winning nine of the previous 11 games and each of the first five games played in The Coliseum.
But the Jaguars said they didn't care about history with 36 players added since the end of the 2002 season. They held Tennessee and McNair, the 2003 co-MVP, to just 249 yards.
The Titans now have lost consecutive games at home after going 7-1 here in 2003.
"Honestly, right now we are not playing good football," Pro Bowl receiver Derrick Mason said. "Anybody that would say anything else would be lying to themselves."
McNair was hurt while trying to rally the Titans. He ran twice for 19 yards, including a 14-yard scramble on third-and-10, on a drive capped by Chris Brown's 26-yard TD run for a 12-7 lead with 5:37 to go.
But McNair overthrew Mason in the left corner of the end zone on a 2-point conversion attempt, then went straight to the sideline, where he pulled off his pads.
Leftwich drove the Jaguars 59 yards in 13 plays, and Taylor capped it with a run to the right side. Taylor, one of only four Jaguars left from the 1999 season in which Tennessee beat them three times, ran back to the sideline with the ball under his arm.
"They flushed my Super Bowl opportunity down the drain, so I respect them to the utmost," Taylor said of the Titans. "I don't know how they feel about us, but it really isn't important."
Leftwich hit Ernest Wilford for the 2-point conversion, but it wasn't needed. Leftwich was 14-of-20 for 124 yards, and Taylor ran 17 times for 81 yards.
Backup Billy Volek warmed up, but the Titans had left him only 3 seconds after a botched play on the short kickoff return. Drew Bennett bounced a lateral back to Samari Rolle, but he was tackled. Volek's pass to Brown bounced off his back as time ran out.
Brown snapped the Jaguars' NFL-best streak of 17 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher as he ran for 101 yards.
But in the end the Titans couldn't stop an offense had generated just two touchdowns coming to this game. The Jaguars went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions.
Then Leftwich got the Jaguars going with an 18-yard pass to Jimmy Smith. Leftwich capped a seven-play drive with a throw to George Wrightster for a 7-yard TD; Wrighster leaped into the end zone over a sprawling Rolle.
Rashean Mathis intercepted McNair once, nearly had his hands on a second and hit him hard off a blitz as the Jaguars kept the Titans from settling into a rhythm.
The Titans had two long drives in the second quarter, but they had to settle for field goals of 26 and 40 yards from Gary Anderson for a 6-0 halftime lead.
Notes: Brown became only the second back since 1970 to rush for 100 yards in each of his first three starts. Stump Mitchell did it in his first four starts with the then-St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s. ... Jaguars cornerback Juran Bolden hurt his shoulder in the first quarter. ... X-rays on Titans safety Lance Schulters' left foot were negative. He was hurt in the third quarter and didn't return. Titans tight end Erron Kinney also hurt a shoulder.